Manoushi bread is the number one snack food all around Lebanon and Syria. Essentially, it is a sort of pizza although a little bit softer and more chewy than the Italian version. Having tested numerous bread doughs, in all sorts of ovens and on all sorts of baking sheets, the one thing we can say with certainty is that this style of Middle Eastern flat bread is immeasurably improved by baking on a hot stone. Most kitchenware stores stock them — they’re often called pizza stones. They’re not expensive, and if your family are pizza fans they’re especially well worth the investment.
- 355 g (12 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 1 tsp dried yeast
- ½ tsp salt
- ¾ tsp sugar
- 175–200 ml (6–7 fl oz) warm water
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Standing time 2 hours 10 minutes
Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the yeast and salt. Dissolve the sugar in the warm water and dribble it into the dry ingredients until they absorb enough to make a sticky dough. How much water is required will entirely depend upon your flour. Mix in the olive oil and use your hands — or the dough hook on your electric mixer — to knead the dough until it is smooth and silky. It will take about 10 minutes. Lightly oil the ball of dough and put it into a bowl. Cover and leave in a warm place to rise for 2 hours, by which time it should have at least doubled in size.
Knock the air out of the dough, then tip it out onto a floured work surface. Cut the dough into12 portions, then lightly flour each one and put them on a tray, covered, for another 10 minutes. When ready to cook, roll each portion out to a 15 cm (6 in) circle and cover with the topping of your choice.
Recipe from Saha by Greg and Lucy Malouf, with photographs by Matt Harvey.